Friday, January 28, 2011

Holly House Hotel

For our time in London, we wanted to stay in a hotel right in the center of town so we could walk around and see the sites. 
Our layover was only 21 hours long so we needed to make good use of our time. We decided to stay at a hotel right next to Victoria station. 

I searched online for good deals and a link for Holly House hotel came up.I had stayed there 2 years ago and it had worked out just fine. This time I needed to book enough space for 5 people. The website advertised a room that had 3 beds and a sofa bed. Sounded just fine. All this was for 23 pounds per person (@ $35) per night. Not super cheap but for being right downtown--and in London--it was not bad at all!

When we got to the hotel we were directed down the street just a bit. There are several hotels in a row on one street that are all owned by the same company.

The stairway was tiny and a bit difficult to navigate with luggage but we managed and were pleasantly surprised to open the door onto our little room. There was a bed at the back, a bunk in the center and another double bed right near the door. It was completely adequate.

 The beds were very comfortable and there were 2 TVs--one next to each large bed with cable TV so we were able to relax that evening with mom and dad watching at one end of the room and kids at the other.

Online reviews had claimed that the trains were very loud but although I heard them a bit just before sleeping and upon waking (they didn't keep me awake), I found the sound comforting.

The only draw back to the room was the teeny tiny bathroom. You can see from the photo just how tiny. That is the door frame on the right of the photo. There was just enough space to sit down.

You can see the other half of the sink from the other picture. And right next to it is the shower. But in the grand scheme of things it really wasn't bad at all.

Continental breakfast the next morning was a bit rushed and not very filling--we were starving just a couple hours later--but it served its purpose as well.

I would definitely recommend this hotel if anyone were looking for an inexpensive, simple place to stay while enjoying the sites of London.*
 Exactly One Year Ago: Electicity Woes and Be Prepared

*I was not asked to do this review nor was I compensated for it. But, if Holly House would like to send me a discount coupon for next time I'm in London, I wouldn't turn it down. :)

London Fun

Lame title, I know. I'm rushed and hurried this morning and know that if I don't get pictures up today, I'll fall horribly behind and that will be the end of it all!
[Update: I never did get my post done yesterday morning. Trying again....]

After arriving at Heathrow airport Saturday evening, we quickly hurried to a computer so we could check in for our flight the next day. The earlier you check in the greater the chance you can all sit together. --With five of us traveling I wanted to get good seats.

After that, we made our way to the underground (AKA the subway) and traveled for 1 hour to central London.

We checked into our hotel and had dinner at a nice little family pub (restaurant) before getting a good night's sleep. I'll post pictures of our hotel tomorrow.

In the morning we bundled up in our sweaters, scarves and jackets and headed out to explore London center. We were so close that we could walk from our hotel door to Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and so much more.
Sadly though, our poor, thin Africanized blood could not take the cold. 
We made it as far as Big Ben before the kids called it quits. 

We decided to hail a taxi and so a drive around a couple blocks which would take us by the few sites we hadn't seen yet like Trafalgar Square, St. James Park and Buckingham Palace. It took us about 10-15 more minutes of walking but we eventually found a taxi.
Because we were in London on a Sunday, big portions of streets were blocked off but we were still able to get a nice view of the buildings. Our taxi driver was really nice and explained things as we drove around.
We were on our way to Buckingham palace when we came upon the courtyard where the mounted Queen's guards were about to be relieved by a new group. Our taxi wasn't allowed to stop but he dropped us off and drove around the block a time or two. 
We watched the guards parade in from the street and then line up with the other horses in front of the Horse Guard building. It was very impressive and such a treat.

As with the case of Tom's jacket which I wrote about last time, I'm often amazed by God's timing and little treats he gives us. If we had continued walking, or if the streets had all been open, we may not have been on that particular street at that particular time and we would have missed out on seeing this extra, but very special ceremony.

After the taxi dropped us off at our hotel we gathered our things, walked back to the underground, navigated an unexpected track closure, got to the airport with just enough time for brunch and then walked down to our gate just as the plane began boarding. Perfection!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Travel Fun

These are the faces that I said goodbye to last Thursday. All the kids and our staff gathered next to the driveway to wave and see us off.

I'm not sure how much the kids understood about our trip since we go on a big drive every week for groceries. 

It was funny how one of the nannies asked me to have a chat with the kids and let them know that they still had to obey even though mommy and daddy would be gone. She was worried the kids would misbehave if they thought mom and dad wouldn't be there to enforce the law. The missionaries who are looking after things in our stead promised to uphold the discipline standard. 

Everything went really well on our bus trip aside from having left behind Tom's jackets. We tried looking for a new coat for Tom at the thrift stores in Lusaka (it's summer so no shops would carry them) but there weren't even any used coats available.
As we left the thrift store, I remembered that a visitor, Angela, who had been at the orphanage was going to be heading back down to Lusaka that very day. We quickly called our friends and they had a staff member run down to the bus station. Angela arrived in Lusaka one hour before we had to leave for the airport. Wasn't that an amazing piece of timing?

The airport stretch of the trip went well despite the incredibly long line after checking in to get through immigration and security. We laughed with other passengers that this huge delay was for only 3 flights. Imagine what it would be like if they were a large international airport.

We managed to get 5 seats in the same row so we could all see each other and communicate along the way. The kids were thrilled to watch movies and TV shows. I don't think they slept at all for the whole 10 hour flight.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about our London day. God did another mini-miracle of timing that day too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Checking in

Hi everyone! I know I've been an absentee blogger but things were crazy this week!

We are off on our trip. Everything got packed (except Tom's jacket!) and we are in pretty good spirits.

We survived (somewhat) the 16 hour bus ride and are running around Lusaka today finishing up last minute business errands.

Please pray for our safe travels on our next two plane rides--both are 10 hours long--and our time in London. Pray for good weather as we do not have much in the way of cold-weather clothing and our poor blood has thinned out over the last nine years.

Please also pray for nine month old Jack. When I left the orphanage he was sick. He'd had a fever for 5 days. We had treated him for malaria but apparently the medicine didn't work because a blood slide done yesterday showed he still had malaria. He's now on his second round of malaria meds and a course of antibiotics. A lot of stress for a little body.

Our friends arrived Tuesday morning to look after the orphanage along with our current long-term volunteer and the hand over of responsibilities went smoothly. They even commented that we seemed very organized. Score!

Well, that is it for now. If I get a chance at the airport on Sunday I'll post pictures of our journey so far. I got a lovely picture of all the little ones saying goodbye yesterday. *Sniff* I'm gonna miss those guys.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Randomness in My City This Sunday

I took a few random shots of things that were going on in my house today.

Tom got ready to go out to preach this morning. He normally prefers teaching to preaching holding classes twice a week in our home but every once in a while he'll do a spot of guest preaching. 
I made sure he was well-fed with coffee cake and decaf coffee.

All this stuff has to make its way into that blue suitcase and the small carry-on buried underneath the pile. That's one of my goals for today. If I actually get it done it may be a first ever for me since I normally pack minutes before I leave. We don't leave until Thursday.

We have friends coming to look after things for us while we're in the States. Because of that, our house is getting an extra scrubbing. It's a good thing they don't read this blog--they won't know how long it took to get things so shiny and neat. I am really happy with how this shelf turned out. 
As a side note, that wildlife picture up there is one I crossstiched. It took me two years.

And, of course, I have to throw in a shot of my babe. He was trying to smile around the huge bite of pineapple in his mouth.

Unknown Mami

Hurry now and visit the others who are posting photos of their Sundays at Unknown Mami's site. There are some beautiful photos out there. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fab Friday Foto(s) XXVII

Happy One Month Birthday, Nicholas!

Nicholas is really starting to perk up now and look around. He eats 3 ounces every three hours and sleeps well too.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Still working....

As we continue to pack and prepare for our three week trip I'm reminded how we  all prioritize differently what is important to pack. The other day, my good bloggy friend from A Musing Mom
wrote about her husband's brilliant idea to give their kids a discarded piece of equipment. I wrote a small story in her comments:

Funny story: One of the activities that Tom and I did in our newlywed year was dismantle electronic equipment like VCRs. I have no idea why! Tom collected all the transistors and diodes (I hate that I know the names) and separated them into little bags. Screws of all sizes--all separated into bags. Then, we left Mexico suddenly with no money and very few possessions. The one thing we did have--an entire suitcase of those little bags. It was years before Tom finally threw them out or sold them for a quarter or something.

Malaria update: I managed a full day at my desk yesterday! Hooray and Hallelujah! Of course by the end of the day I felt sick again but a good night of sleep revived me completely. Today we had no electricity until 2 PM (it went off at 9 PM yesterday) so I mainly did organizing and packing but now I'm back to work at my desk.

Exactly One Year Ago: Invited to a Ball 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Neither Here Nor There

Don't you hate it when someone hasn't written for a while and the first thing they do is apologize for not writing sooner? Yeah, me too. Nevertheless, I am sorry for not getting it together to write yesterday or the day before. My brain wasn't working well enough to form cohesive and intelligent sentences. I know what you're thinking...."That's never stopped her before". True enough. 

I'm on the mend from the malaria. Thank goodness for that. It was a rough one. I'm left with anemia so I'm treating that with lots of vitamins. And, I mean lots! It's a small handful. Blech.

I still can't do much so I work for an hour or two and then rest for 30-60 minutes. I'm hoping to increase the work and decrease the rest as the week goes on. This means that I have to delegate some of my workload as we continue to prepare to leave. As the champion control freak that I am, this is not an easy thing to do.

Speaking of delegating though, I had Troy cook dinner for us last night. I supervised him but he did most of the work himself and did a fine job. It was weird seeing him move around the kitchen. At 13 years old he has now begun his upward climb and he is definitely turning into a man. It's hard to see my baby leaving his childhood behind. What's next? Marriage, grandchildren for me? Wow!

We have just over a week before we begin our journey to the States. First we take the 16 hour bus ride to Lusaka, spend a day there, a 10 hour flight to London, a 21 hour layover, a 10 hour flight to Houston and then we'll be HOME. Sort of....since Africa is also home....

Here is the online invitation for the get together we'll be holding February. Click on this link to be taken to the Facebook page so you can RSVP. If you would like to attend but aren't a Facebook user then please let me know via comments or email and I'll add you to the list.

In other news, Tom branded our two new goats yesterday. Go read all about it.

Exactly One Year Ago: I Used to Be Cool, Didn't I?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sundays--The Three Stooges Edition

Yesterday I was still down for the count. So I stayed in bed almost completely still. One of the problems with malaria is you feel a bit better during the day and so you get up and move around and then relapse so recovery takes longer. 

Anyway, that little tidbit of information is my way of stating that I had nothing to do with what went down yesterday.....

Every day our kids have a 30-45 minute video viewing time right after their afternoon nap and snack. Yesterday, Tom was excited to share one of his favorites with them--The Three Stooges.

It was met with decidedly mixed reviews.

The nannies enjoyed the fishing episode because Kazembe is very much a fishing area.

Jennifer, however, started weeping the moment the video began playing. She eventually had to be taken from the room.

Chola sat with his eyes covered the entire time. He really didn't want to watch it.

In the middle of the video, the electricity went off, but came back on after just a few minutes. Tom cheered, "hooray, now we can watch the video again"!

Chola was not happy and did not want it turned back on again.

Johnny was really impressed by the cannibals who had bones in their noses and wanted to eat Larry, Curly and Moe. He talked abut them all afternoon and wanted to know if they were the 'bad guys'.

I think it's safe to say that The Three Stooges will not be in the regular selection of afternoon videos.

Unknown Mami
This is what was happening in my 'city'. Join Unknown Mami by clicking on that button above and see how others are spending their Sundays.

Please continue to pray for my full recovery. I'm moving around a bit more today but it still leaves me breathless and in a cold sweat. I have to force myself to rest completely today so that I can try to get work done tomorrow. Tomorrow morning will mean 9 working days only before we leave for the U.S.

Exactly One Year Ago (yesterday): Fab Friday Foto

Friday, January 7, 2011

Down for the Count

Ok, that title is a bit dramatic but when have I ever missed out on a chance to give my writing that extra twist?

Yesterday I felt just awful--backache, headache, a feeling of foreboding and hopelessness and every joint felt out of place. By the evening it became clear that I most likely had malaria.

I waited until morning to take the medicine because I wanted to be sure but after a restless night I had no doubt it was malaria. The funny thing with malaria is you can feel much better during the day but by the night it all comes back again.

For example, I actually managed to get a report done and emailed out today but now as we approach 5 PM I can feel the parasites beginning to circulate again. I know...TMI!

Today was regular shopping day and so Tom and everyone else headed out early this morning. We decided that the only way I'd get any rest was if I pretended to be out with  them as well. So, I gave the kitchen lady all her instructions and then ducked into the house as Tom and the kids left. 
Just after they left I realized my mistake. I'd brought no food or water into the house with me (there isn't even any Christmas candy left after a particularly PMS-ridden day earlier this week).
I don't think we fooled anyone anyway. Our manager came to my door twice and knocked insistently. 

By 1:30 this afternoon I was starving so since I knew the staff would be eating in their lunch room I dashed across the yard into the kitchen to prepare some lunch. I left evidence of my cooking  and since they don't have elves as part of the local lore, I'm pretty sure I'm busted. No matter. I will continue to ignore the knocks at the door and get my rest.

This is quite possibly my 10th episode of malaria in my life--I've honestly lost count so I kinda take it in stride. It can be serious but treated quickly and properly can mean all the difference. I've had hepatitis since being in Africa so I have to be extra careful--both diseases affect the liver but if I take care and rest I'll be just fine. Thanks for your prayers.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year Committments

I wrote last New Year about the tradition that we've followed for years that has simplified lately. This year we again kept it pretty simple.

Last year I had one simple resolution. Read the book of Philippians every day and absorb it and make it part of me. How did I do? Hmmm, I don't know how many days I actually did that. Most of my favorite life verses come from that book so it will still be important to me but I didn't meet that goal last year.

This year I've decided I'm gonna do a shotgun approach. If I shoot in enough directions I'm bound to hit something.

For sure I'm committing to reading the Bible every day for 90 days. I'm following a reading plan that will help me complete the entire Bible in that time. 

Another goal for this new year is to write a little every week of my life story with the aim of eventually getting it into book form.

I will continue on my life change in eating healthier and moving more so that I can reach my goal weight by the end of this year.

I'm also joining up with Just Lu for her Housewife McGyver challenge. I have the button on my right hand side bar. Her first challenge for this month is to commit to something. I'm committing to reading the Bible as I stated above and also to working at least 3 nights a week on my sewing during TV viewing time so my hands are busy too.

Another button over there is Joe's Goals. The graph shows my goals and how I'm doing on meeting them. For every positive goal met that day, I receive a point (or 5--depending on how I set it up) and for each negative habit I fail to break I lose a set amount of points.  
Right now my goals are simple: 
Read my Bible each day, take my vitamins, exercise, drink my 8 cups of water. Those are the positive goals. My negative habit to break is no sugar (except on Sunday). 
The website will even contact me if I stop tracking my goals. How cool is that?

I'm hoping by having a few goals in different areas I will hit at least one (or more) of the targets and keep motivated.

Do you have any goals and resolutions set for this year?

Exactly One Year Ago (yesterday): Home is Where the Heart Is
Exactly One Year Ago: Having a Hard Time

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's a New Year!!

I can't believe it's already the fourth and I've posted only once. 

On the bright side, I did add a slide show to my blog. It's right over there-------> (hint: you have to actually click over to the blog to see it.)

I've also added Kazembe Orphanage tweets to the top of the blog and moved my personal tweets to the right hand side bar. 

Just a little spring-- winter? summer?  guess it depends on where you are-- cleaning.

A head's up. I won't be around as often as I'd like because I'm preparing for that oh, so exciting, trip to the States at the end of this month and of course all the year end admin work has to be done first, as well as preparing everything to be left with friends who will be looking after things here while we're gone. Pray for me, please!

Summer hanging out with the kids to watch the fireworks.
Tomorrow I'll try to share my resolutions or goals for the year. One should definitely be to pace myself and not procrastinate so much. Hmmmm. See you then. 

In the meantime, please tell me what you did for New Year's Eve. Did you party hearty, or sit at home and reflect or something in between?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Year In Review

January started off with a bang as we took in two new babies just a few days before the new year rolled in and they both passed away in the first week of January. I was reminded what a help my writing is as I poured my heart and soul out onto the pages of this blog and you all were there to encourage and lift me up.
 We attended our first ever Policemen's Ball and had a blast. I wrote about my occasional slips into hyperbole. We had one of our ever crazy shopping days. I gave you a peek into what is in my wallet huge purse. I shared an average day in Africa. 

February we had a wicked crazy trip to the capital. You can read that saga involving life threatening illnesses, power struggles, odd mistakes, etc: here, here, here, here, here and here. Told you it was a saga!

In March I learned that my hips were actually good for something. I traveled quite a bit. First to Ndola for dental work and then to the U.S to drop off my son for college and also for fundraising. I told you what I was most excited about in the States. We passed through London and got to do some sightseeing.

I kicked off April by explaining how our son came to be named T.J. Life carried on at a rapid clip with activities at the orphanage, a new baby named Lizzie, and more fundraising in the U.S.
I discovered how hard it is to be the parent of grown children especially when they are far from your home. Speaking of loved ones and distance, I got to visit my mom in California and take part in her favorite hobby. I also met my sister's husband and two children for the first time.
Tom continued to hold down the fort at the orphanage.

In May, despite all the work I had to do, I continued to really enjoy my time States side. I even attended my first ever concert
Despite all the fun, there were some challenges. My daughter broke her knee. I got stranded at an airport. Back home, Tom continued to have his own adventures.

June found me traveling back home. It was good to be home, but I also had a difficult time readjusting
I didn't have much time to sit around feeling sorry for my lack of energy as we had one of our busiest months with some more 'African' days. We had water emergencies but Tom found solutions for them.
Baby Peter had to learn to share his family with an 'intruder'. I wrote about a Zambian tradition I just can't get used to.

July found us celebrating our first ever birthday party for two of our little girls. We had fantastic news when the clinic came to do a check up on the kids.
A friend came to spend a month with us and she and I got away for a few days of vacation. It was wonderful!! Read all about that here: Day one, day two, day three, day four, Livingstone and Victoria Falls,  and a safari.
We also took in little baby Raphael who sadly passed away due to his severe medical issues. 
Mutomboko also happened this month though I did not document it.

In August I was reminded what  a big job we have as we faced employee issues. Tom also faced a challenging dilemma and wrote about how he resolved it. Chola accompanied us to Lusaka for a medical check up and later in the month had a minor surgery.
Tom continued to work with the Wildlife Association in rescuing animals. Some we could helped and some we couldn't

September saw our 17 year old son venturing out on his first solo trip to Lusaka. The heat came in as we moved out of winter (May-July here) and into summer (August-November). We got a pool so the kids can learn to swim.
I gave everyone a peek into one of my regular days.
We had a visit from an important government official who had only good things to say about our work.
Baby Peter learned an important skill just over a year after coming to live with us.

When October rolled around we were busy with the kids, our Bible classes and the regular life of a missionary when, along came a huge hurdle. While this hasn't been completely resolved we are at least at peace again and things are still going well with our main projects. 
I gave a virtual tour of our home and answered some good reader questions. You can find those answers here, here, and here.

November brought us a new baby girl. We launched a special Christmas project for the kids, too.
I continued answering reader questions. I found humor in daily African life, had a close encounter with a snake, and rainy season started in earnest bringing the regular animal life out.
Then life took a difficult heart broke a little more and I continued to find healing in writing.  

My heart was still full as December opened with World AIDS Day. I wrote an article about how HIV/AIDS affects us and those around us here in Zambia.
I was reminded how God chooses the foolish things when I went shopping one day.
We said goodbye to our pet monkey when he moved to a zoo. Then we said hello to a new baby.
We wrapped up the year by celebrating Christmas with the little ones in a wonderful way due to the generosity of many of you!

2010 was an exciting and wonderful year! I can't wait to see what God has in store for us now.
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